Or, you can add a little gold to your holiday table with the honey-colored sweet white wines of Sauternes and Barsac in the Bordeaux wine-growing region of France.
The wine is made from white grapes that have been affected by the "noble rot," more scientifically known as Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that concentrates the sugars and the aromas in the grapes. This is the home of the famous Château d'Yquem, which sells for hundreds a bottle, but there are plenty of other producers in the region putting out good wines at a range of prices. These also make for good gifts since they're pretty in the bottle and a little bit out of the ordinary.
This is a wine for sipping fireside or enjoying with some cheese nibbles. It's also surprisingly versatile, pairing well with savory holiday dishes such as turkey and sweet potatoes. Aline Baly, whose family owns the Chateau Coutet winery in the village of Barsac, sees the wines as "a reminder of the holiday season with their distinct notes of citrus zest, orange and lemon, and ripe nectars, pears, and the sweet touch of gingerbread on your palate." Prices vary but Château Coutet can generally be found for around $30 a half-bottle.
Whatever you're serving this season, be sure to have a little fun, Bell advises. And don't be shy of trying something different. "It's the one time of year when you know you're going to have people over, and you're going to have a LOT of people over. And if your crowd is wine drinkers, that's a good time to open up three or four different wines. That's the fun way to do it."